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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

To support the psychological welfare of young people, STARTTS works in close partnership with the education systems and directly with school communities through our Schools Program. With considerable success, the program is making STARTTS services more accessible to refugee young people as well as providing high quality advice and assistance to teachers, school counsellors and other student welfare personnel.   Our overall aim is to improve education, mental health and employment outcomes for disadvantaged students.

Read STARTTS in Schools Report 2021

What we do in schools

STARTTS work in schools is a collaborative partnership with schools across NSW, recognising our collective aim to better outcomes for refugee survivors of torture and trauma, especially young people. Having worked alongside schools since our inception 34 years ago, we recognise the expertise of teachers, the leadership of principals, and the commitment of schools, in providing for the education and wellbeing needs of all students.

STARTTS in Schools consists of three main components – the School Liaison Program which works to build partnership and enhance capacity amongst the NSW Department of Education, Catholic Education and Association of Independent Schools NSW to receive enrolments from students from refugee backgrounds. STARTTS in Schools offers trauma informed direct service programs and individual interventions through Child and Adolescent Counsellors and a team of specialist Youth Workers.

Through the School Liaison Program, specialist consultation and professional learning to teachers, welfare staff and school leaders are offered. This approach acknowledges their integral contribution to the recovery, resettlement and integration processes for children, young people and their parents and carers, whose lives have been disrupted by conflict, persecution and long-term displacement. Click here to see who is in the School Liaison Team and how to contact them.

Whilst not all students from a refugee background will require counselling and torture/trauma services, some may require interventions to help them overcome their experiences the past. These might include individual psychotherapy from a trauma counsellor, psychotherapeutic group work or youth and community development approaches to build connections amongst themselves and with the greater schooling community.

STARTTS in Schools enhances outcomes for students of refugee backgrounds by promoting:

  • A whole-school approach to supporting students from a refugee background
  • Approaches to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people from refugee backgrounds enrolled in NSW Schools, alongside that of their families and communities
  • Social inclusion and successful resettlement outcomes allowing student to integrate effectively in NSW, building upon the strengths that individuals and communities bring with them.
  • Systemic change to improve the responses from education settings, catering to the specific needs for children, young people and families of refugee backgrounds.

Services provided

  • Referral for specialist individual therapeutic interventions such as counselling, neurofeedback
  • Therapeutic and Community Development focuses Group Programs. The following links provides more detailed information on what we may be offer your school.
  • Group programs for families and communities such as the Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) program.
  • Specialist resources for schools, teachers and counsellors (Settling In , Jungle Tracks etc)
  • Partnerships with schools on school-led initiatives
  • Interagency collaboration with school leaders and establishing collegial networks to address refugee students’ needs in different geographical locations.
  • Flexible approaches to professional learning (workshops, presentations, facilitated professional learning activities, guest speakers, secondary consultation) in response to the specific needs.

School Liaison Team

The STARTTS School Liaison team has a School Liaison Officer in most STARTTS offices across NSW. Click here to see who the School Liaison Program team is and how to contact them.

Contact the School Liaison Team

Professional learning

Schools can access professional learning through the School Liaison Program (click here for team names and contact details) and can request professional learning to be held on site at their school. Please complete the school specific professional development request form or contact: schools.training@startts.org.au

Content includes:

  • STARTTS in Schools : Working with Students from a Refugee Background (Introductory workshop). Understanding the refugee and asylum seeker experience and the impact of trauma on learning and wellbeing
  • Accidental Counselling: Dealing with Trauma Disclosure or responding to Aggression. The role of teachers and schools in supporting recovery from trauma
  • Engaging Parents and Families From a Refugee Background
  • Recognising Trauma: Classroom Implications
  • Vicarious Trauma and Self Care
  • Promoting Recovery Through Intercultural Learning
  • Refugee Readiness Audit
  • Clinical interventions with Refugee Young People in Schools (For school counsellors)
Schools Training Request Form

Specialist consultation

STARTTS in Schools offers a specialist consulting service to schools in metropolitan Sydney and Regional NSW. Please contact Shaun Nemorin, School Liaison Team Leader, on 9646 6700 or by email.

Theoretical frameworks underpinning the Schools Support Program include:

The video below outlines the theoretical framework adopted by STARTTS in Schools coupled with successful examples of how it works.

Hints for Healing

In the past, Hints for Healing was STARTTS’ quarterly electronic magazine, designed to strengthen student welfare personnel’s knowledge and skills about the needs of students with refugee experience. In 2020, with the goal of making relevant articles, resources, podcasts and case studies more readily accessible to educators and school counsellors, STARTTS in Schools, together with the STARTTS Early Childhood Program, have collaborated to bring you Hints for Healing content on a dedicated website.

Hints For Healing



Hear about the Community Voice program below

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